To the editor:
(Editor's note: One line was redacted from this
letter. The line provided no additional or different information.)
Last year my sister and I concluded successful discussions with
Hanson Material Services Co. for expansion of limestone mining
operations near the Rocky Ford area of Logan County, where such
mining has been conducted by our family and its successors since the
Hanson is part of a multinational company that conducts mining
operations throughout virtually the entire world. The limestone
quarry in Logan County began in the 1930s and was purchased by
Hanson in the early 1980s. Travel west on Fifth Street for about 4
miles and you will see the beautiful lakes and wildlife area of
about 700 acres created by those mining operations. To my knowledge
there has never been a significant dispute between the mine
operators and people residing near the quarry; my family operated
the limestone mine from the mid-1930s through mid-1970s.
My sister and I, with assistance from Hanson, applied to Logan
County officials for modification of zoning of our land so the
project could proceed. At least two similar rezoning applications
for land in the same area had been approved by Logan County
officials in the past. Our application, however, was objected to by
Some objectors sought imposition of conditions upon us or Hanson
not permitted by law. One objector family demanded their farmstead
be purchased from them for a price far exceeding its cost and about
seven times the amount at which the Logan County tax assessor
previously valued the property at the objectors' request.
Our state's attorney advised county officials of the illegality
of imposing such conditions, but the demands continued, and a great
deal of political pressure was exerted upon our local officials to
impose such conditions or, failing that, deny the rezoning request.
Apparently, at least one objecting family sought and obtained
political intervention by a congressman and a state representative
to support their requests for improper imposition of financial
Despite those efforts and exercise of extreme political pressure
from many sources, on Dec. 18, 2012, the Logan County Board properly
and courageously approved the rezoning by a 10-1 vote, with one
On March 18, 2013, the last day allowed by law, Stephen and
Pamela Schreiner appealed that decision to the Circuit Court, a case
now pending, which obviously delays the much-needed mining project.
During the rezoning process Hanson representatives attended
meetings, answered questions and continued negotiating a mining
agreement with me. A state mining permit will not issue unless the
land to which the permit relates is zoned to allow mining
(extraction) activities. During that proceeding I presented several
hundred pages of scientific studies, favorable sworn affidavits from
people residing for years near the Hanson quarry, plus testimony and
exhibits presented by qualified geologists and engineers who studied
and analyzed the area at considerable expense to my sister and me.
In my opinion, the objectors merely utilized smoke, mirrors,
political pressure tactics and emotional arguments, which
demonstrated they had not properly investigated the issues.
[to top of second column in this letter]
Hanson met with the objectors, offering to remediate virtually
all cosmetic, noise, dust, water and other issues, but still the
financial demands continued. Coupled with a township demand for
expensive roadway improvements, the delay, extreme political
pressure, pending zoning ordinance amendment and actions of the
objectors convinced Hanson to leave Logan County because of its
unfavorable business environment. As a consequence Logan County lost
an employee payroll of approximately $1,000,000 per year, several
miners lost their jobs and employment benefits, and local residents,
farmers, builders, government entities will continue to pay much
higher prices for needed limestone because we have no local mine.
I firmly believe Hanson was purposefully chased out of Logan
County at the expense of its citizens.
The now proposed amendment to the Logan County Zoning Ordinance
would completely eliminate mining (extraction) as a zoning
classification for any land in Logan County, making extraction a
"special use" on land already zoned for agricultural purposes and
requiring us to seek a "special use permit" even though the land is
now zoned for mining.
This amendment, promoted by board member Kevin Bateman, is very
problematic legally, will further discourage business development
and hurt the local economy. Mr. Bateman even recently declared there
is no need to wait for the state's attorney to review and advise the
board concerning legality of the proposed amendment.
Since there are about 17 years of minable stone reserves under
the already rezoned land, one must wonder: "Why is Mr. Bateman in
such a hurry?"
I believe the public should be given an honest answer to that
question. The legal implications of this proposal are substantial
and helped drive Hanson out of Logan County. Since our local, state
and federal representatives should promote the economic welfare of
this county, how can they do so by delaying or stopping the stone
quarry we seek for Logan County or changing laws to continue driving
businesses from Logan County?
The zoning amendment issue is to be again presented and discussed
by the Logan County Zoning Committee on Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m. That
meeting will be held in the Blue Room at the Logan County Safety
Complex at 911 Pekin St., Lincoln.
If you support quick development of a limestone quarry and the
economic benefits it will provide for the citizens of Logan County,
I urge you to attend that meeting to express that support. You may
call the county board office (217-732-6400) and request to be listed
as a speaker on the meeting agenda.
I also urge you to contact your county board representatives to
complain about the proposed change of the zoning ordinance. The
proposal is counterproductive to business development efforts in
It is time for honesty and transparency in local government.
Lincoln and Logan County have been consistently losing businesses
and population for many years. If local "backroom politics" and
business development policies do not change quickly, then I urge the
last person leaving Logan County to please remember to turn out the
Thank you for considering these comments.
Douglas A. Muck
August 03, 2013]
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